The Texas Capitol’s auditorium turned into a church late Tuesday afternoon, at least it sounded like one.
After the official legislative business had concluded for the day, about 60 people gathered in the basement auditorium for an “election sermon” delivered by several Texas pastors. The event—organized by sophomore state Rep. David Simpson, a Longview Republican and devout Christian conservative—follows what he says is an age-old tradition of public election sermons regarding the mission and character of the government. Eleven state lawmakers attended, though 29 of them had sponsored the event. Simpson hosted an election sermon in 2011 too, on his first day as a state rep, and has said he hopes it becomes a tradition.
Prayers in the Capitol are often benign, inclusive affairs, with nods to different faiths—the speaker of the Texas House is, after all, Jewish. The election sermon wasn’t that kind of event.
Douglas Phillips, a pastor at the Boerne Christian Assembly, told the crowd that God made the jurisdiction of the state, and that the Bible says all legislators are ministers of God, even if they’re unaware of it.
Phillips also said that lawmakers must uphold the legacy of the country’s founders. “They did not come to acknowledge some general God, or Allah, they came specifically to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In addition to preaching at Boerne Christian Assembly, Phillips is founder and president of a San Antonio nonprofit called Vision Forum Ministries, which, according to its web site, “exists to encourage and equip the biblical family, to train and facilitate fathers leading their families in righteousness, and to provide a forum of events, messages, and resources to assist in your family’s multi-generational legacy of faithfulness.”
Phillips, according to the site, is a dedicated home-schooler who attended George Mason School of Law, clerked for the late Robert Bork and later worked to “defend home educators and Christian parents from State tyranny.” He and his wife have eight children named Joshua, Justice, Liberty, Jubilee, Faith, Honor, Providence and Virginia Hope
Voddie Baucham, of Grace Family Baptist Church and Voddie Baucham Ministries, delivered the main sermon. He said he’s all for the Lone Star State, but not declaring independence from God, who is a consuming fire. “I’m here today to lobby for the rights of a king,” Baucham said. He also pressed the legislators in the room to remember the godliness in humility.
Simpson closed out the event by reminding his fellow lawmakers in the room that the primary goal of legislators is to punish the wrong-doers and commend those who do well. “We don’t do a lot well,” he said “And sometimes we don’t do a lot of punishing well.”